Derek Bryce-Smith

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Derek Bryce-Smith[1] (1926–2011) was a chemist and professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Reading until 1991. His work included organometallic chemistry, radical chemistry and photochemistry. He was among the first to describe the dangers of tetraethyl lead, which was used for several decades as an anti-knock additive in petrol. Initially, his concerns were dismissed both by his fellow academics and by industrial interests.[2] However, by the time of his death, only six countries had not outlawed leaded petrol,[3] and the Royal Society of Chemistry gave him a silver medal in 1984 for his work in this area.[4] He subsequently became convinced that the use of NPK fertilisers in agriculture resulted in a lack of the essential trace element, zinc in modern (particularly vegetarian) diets; his pioneering views were again widely dismissed, becoming mainstream years later. An account of both campaigns is given in a book he co-authored with Liz Hodgkinson.[5]


  1. ^ "University of Reading Staff Portal: Professor Derek Bryce-Smith". Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  2. ^ "Derek Bryce-Smith obituary". The Guardian. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  3. ^ Lean, Geoffrey (29 July 2011). "Pollution: triumph of the inconvenient truth. Derek Bryce-Smith's warnings about lead in petrol made him a public health hero". The Telegraph.
  4. ^ "Change at the pumps: the campaigners who put the brake on the oil companies". The Independent. 26 December 1999..
  5. ^ Bryce-Smith, Derek; Hodgkinson, Liz (October 1986). The Zinc Solution. London: Arrow Books Ltd. ISBN 0-0994-8430-7.